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Category Archives: Adjusting to Life

A Moment

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Life has been in full swing over the last 6 months. Elaine and I have had opposite schedules for the last few months so in case you haven’t noticed the blog has been put on the back burner.
A blog post is a blog post however I miss the time and creative process. Right now most of our updates are short and filled with photos… but it is still an update.
Here are some photos from last night after dinner. It was moment. A normal and routine time of our day, but so mundane that I decided to document it. Each stage goes incredibly fast and each phase means new moments.

Here you’ll see Mason was outside playing in the garden and Caleb cracking up with his baby giggles in the living room.

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Today

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Today started with this.

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And ended with this.
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In between were sweet Caleb chomps, grunts, screams, chortles and smiles.


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Some messy Mason faces, rolling on the floor giggles, a few episodes of Magic School Bus, and some puzzles in the evening.


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We had a morning of productivity, some stolen moments of pleasure reading, a few errands (to Mason, a trip to Trader Joe’s means a banana to eat in the cart, stickers at checkout, and the secret but rarely fulfilled hope of a lollipop on the way out the door) ((Today that last wish was granted))


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We ate dinner…


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Read to Mason, who’s current favorites include Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle, and rocked the little one to sleep.


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Now Mark and I are in the living room.  Creme filled cookies to snack on, Mark’s newest bread experiment cooling in the kitchen (Blueberry Walnut Bread) and an old episode of How I Met Your Mother playing as I write this post.


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And these are the things that put my mind at ease and fill my heart.  Nothing groundbreaking. No special trips.  No particularly noteworthy adventures.

But man I had a great day!

It was slow paced, it was relaxing, we all did our own thing at points and we all shared some snuggles, some meals and some laughs.  We got out of the house for a bit, but we hung out at home most of the time.

I could be happy with a few more days like this.


With moments like these to serve as bookends, it’s hard to ask for more. 😉

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Cruising

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I think we’ve finally come to the post-holiday cruise. Where we aren’t trying to recover from the holidays anymore and life is starting to fall back into what feels like a familiar rhythm. Which is funny, because I’m not sure exactly what constitutes as a familiar rhythm these days, as the last half of 2013 jumped from massive traveling, to the tail end of pregnancy, to new baby living, then straight into the holidays. So maybe it’s less that things are returning to normal, but that with the absence of any major plans on the horizon, I feel like we’ve finally hit that ledge that leads into deeper water. The opportunity to be relatively still for a while. To be homebodies, and feel out this life now, which has managed to ease it’s way out of the family with a newborn stage and into whatever is next.

There have been so many changes already. I don’t even know where to start. Maybe with just a few.

Mason. His baby talk feels like it has faded all together. Which doesn’t mean that we can always understand everything that he says, but he’s nailing, not only actual words, but sentences and common phrases that we use. Thank you is no longer “Thap tham”, but actually sounds like “Thank you” or even “Thanks” He’s taken to saying, “Maybe tomorrow” and “maybe next time” when we ask him to eat or do something that he isn’t interested in at the moment. And when you ask him what he thinks about something, or if he likes something, you can see him pause and consider it… If it’s food, he tastes whatever is new, furrows his brow and goes “hmmm” before he reports back. I would give anything to be inside of his head and witness the process of thought that goes on in this little 2 year old’s brain. But in the absence of psychic powers, I am content with watching the expressions and opinions that come out of this kiddo from here.

Caleb. Is already 3 months old. Life definitely is moving quicker with two little ones than it did when we just had Mason. I can hardly believe its been three months already. This tiny tiny boy is such a sweet bundle. He is quick to smile, and loves to gurgle and coo make sounds at you, and breaks out into a huge grin when you repeat them back to him. He works so hard to pull himself to sitting and looks so proud when he stands now too, all unsteady and wobbly, complete with bobble-head action up top. Little things are different about the two boys at this age. I remember when Mason moved into his own crib, every now and then he would let out a terrified scream in the middle of the night, and I would leap up and race down the hall to see that he had pulled his blanket up over his face accidentally, scaring himself when he woke up. Caleb loves pulling his blankets up high when he’s nestled in the swing, snuggling into them and falling asleep easily that way.

There are so many more things. So many things that I want to record, to share, to remember.

But a little at a time.

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Caleb’s Story

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This  post is a long time overdue. You’ve seen his photos, but it’s time that you get filled in with details that led up to and right after Caleb joined our family on September 30th.

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Early in the morning on September 29th Elaine said that she began experiencing mild contractions. I’ll speak for myself  but I’d bet that we both began thinking of the next few giant life steps that were coming a week quicker than expected. You see we didn’t have the baby’s bed set up, our hospital bag wasn’t packed, the freezer could still hold more advance food, heck… we didn’t even have a name chosen yet. The deadline was approaching on all of these projects and they all came to the front of the queue at the same time.

IMG_6859In honor of Mason’s birth story, Elaine suggested that we make waffles for breakfast. It was a great suggestion that helped quiet my mind and focus on the present moment (as much as possible). Unfortunately our waffles didn’t turn out so hot. It’s a major side story, but we’ve had issues with our waffles staying together while cooking and not sticking to the grill. The waffles turned out to be more like waffle shavings so the batter then became pancakes. Regardless of the shape and size they tasted great and were enjoyed by all.

The contractions held tight for the rest of the morning and we began double timing the nesting projects. A call was also placed to Elaine’s parents to see if they could come to Santa Barbara earlier than expected. Thankfully they were able and could help care for Mason and Ruby if we had to go the hospital sooner that expected. At the same time I reached out to work and commitments I made for the week and rescheduled as much as possible.

That afternoon the contractions began to quiet in frequency and pain level. We breathed a sigh of relief but than began to wonder… was that a false alarm or was it a warning that our baby was coming soon?

We decided to go out for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Sojourners. It may have been unspoken, but I think there was a moment that we looked at each other and recognized that this would be our last meal with just the three of us. It was a great long dinner filled with quite moments, future planning, and reflection. Mason was a gem and had fun playing with his toys, a giant cup of apple juice, and some pre-birthday pie.

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At Mason’s bedtime we kissed him good night and began to unwind from a long day. Because the contractions had basically disappeared we took the night off from more projects. No extra cooking, packing, laundry, organizing or anything of that productive nature. I went to bed around 10pm fully expecting to go into work the following morning. We had some calm before the we went into action.

I don’t remember the exact time, but around 1:30am Elaine woke me up with intense contractions about 5 minutes apart. Quickly we began to document the contractions, pack bags, and get the necessitates together. We held tight and went to the hospital as soon as Ken and Ida made it to our house a little before 4am.

When we got to the ER Elaine requested a wheelchair and was pushed into the new Labor and Delivery part of the hospital. This was quite a different experience from two year prior… when Elaine was skipping down the hall much in the style of Fred Astaire.  The pain was increasing with each contractions and it wasn’t until the first nurse checked Elaine’s cervix that they got into action… she was 5cm {Elaine is convinced that she was 7cm but to be honest I don’t remember … So I’ll take her word}. She went immediately into the delivery room and was finally able to breathe and rest once her epiderral arrived.

Elaine was a champ the entire time but really began to shine as the baby came closer. In between pushes she was making small talk with the nurses and doctor, cracking jokes, and was very at ease with her breathing. Looking back it felt like she was only pushing for 30 minutes but I bet it was closer to an hour… and our baby was born at 10:09am.

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It is easy to get caught up in each step of pregnancy and delivery process but at that moment it all came together. He was born. He was healthy. He was safe. He was ours. The entire thing is amazing and I hope to never forget the sights, sounds, and feelings associate with it.

Some of the next steps were easy… rest. Some were hard… decide on a final name. Elaine and I have had an unofficial list of names for a few weeks but there were no clear winner. One day it would be “this one” and the next it would be “that one” and then our opinions would switch. It was never a source of contention between the two of us- we had good a few names that we both liked and picture using. You’ll remember that Mason only liked the name Lucas. He was set on the name and regardless of the situation his opinion never wavered. We used his opinion and came up with… Caleb Lucas.

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After two nights in the hospital we were able to come home and celebrate Mason’s 2nd birthday. (Unbelivable how that happened so fast!) It was great to finally be in our own space and start adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn. A BIG thank you to friends and family for your help with the transition. The companionship, meals, cleaning, and baby sitting have been crucial in our sanity and welfare.

Welcome to the family Caleb.

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The View From My Perch

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On top of the regular weekend responsibilities, such as going to the grocery store, cleaning the house, walking the dog, and doing laundry, the last couple days have been filled with a number of extras- walking with friends, seeing Ken & Ida in Ventura, and attending a party called Meat-a-polooza. Each one was great and fun, but this morning I realized how much I love mornings at home with Mason and how much I needed some time to think.

This is particularly true in reflecting on the past week. To no fault of his own, Mason quickly turned into an angry bear. It started with a 102.5 degree fever, more extreme teething, and continued with irregular sleep, odd nap times/lengths, and not happy mealtimes. This drastic change in routine threw everything and everybody into a wonky pattern and in turn put me into survival mode and not my best self- guess you could say I was an angry bear too.

The good news is that the fever only lasted through the night and the doctor confirmed that he has two teeth remaining until his full set is out. The storm is passing…

This morning as Mason played, I sat at our table and ate half of my whole wheat donut and slowly sipped my hot coffee. I finally felt like myself again, the fog had lifted, the list of things that needed to be done had disappeared, food tasted good, and we were having fun again. It’s amazing how quickly the swift can happen and how much of a relief it immediately brings.

The switch also allowed me to sit at my perch and watch his play unfold. To paint a picture, I sat at the table and watched Mason play in our living room. He would dramatically run and crash into our chairs, climb up onto the couch only to throw pillows to the floor, search for Ruby and cuddle with her, play with a random toy, put on bracelets, run over to me to get more oatmeal, play peek-a-boo with his blanket, and curl up in the dog bed.

The extended moment may have lasted 10 minutes, but it allowed me to reflect and see that the survival mode that I was in was not a healthy place to live. For starters it made my fuse way too short, but it also made me lose sight of the big picture and get stuck in “please just get me through this moment”.

It’s nice to have the reflection. It is a breather from the day and now it is nice to jump back into the fun.

Here are some photos….. (#1 cuddle time with Ruby, #2 Happy (belated) Birthday to Ruby aka Lady Mama Rooba Beagle, and #3 the game of crashing onto his blanketIMG_4998

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End of an Era

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We’re coming to the end of an era. I have only 2 more evenings of nursing Mason. Thursday night will be my last night with this sweet little bedtime ritual we’ve had for the past 15 1/2 months. It’s so bittersweet. On one hand, I’m excited to have the range of foods returned to me, since I won’t have to alter my eating for Mason’s allergies… But I’m definitely sad for this chapter to end. I don’t know how often I’ll get to cradle him in my arm like that again, squirming, wiggling, energetic little boy that he is. I never really thought I’d be sad to see nursing end, but it’s just such a sweet, simple way of nourishing your baby. Of giving and being needed.
Little steps of independence, they come so soon! No one told me! I thought he’d be my little baby till at least junior high years, you know? Teenagers… I expect steps of independence from… but my little almost 16 month old? It’s one more thing he’s learned to do on his own, that he doesn’t need me for.
It’s so strange, isn’t it? We grow these little babies, our whole lives change, shift, rearrange so that they’re at the center of them because they need us for absolutely everything. They can’t eat without us, they can’t move without us. They can’t learn without us. So we nurture and feed and pick them up and carry them with us wherever we go, so that they can, little by little, step by step, no longer need us for any of it. So much single minded focus on these little baby bundles with the singular purpose of teaching them how to do all those things without us. It’s mind boggling. We grow so attached, and in some ways, the rest of their growing is learning how to release.
Not everything of course. Strings will always be tied to our hearts. And arms will always be open and welcoming, aching to encircle. Laughs will be had, and eventually, phone calls and visits will be made.

Such a trip. This parenting thing, hmm?

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In other, slightly belated Christmas news, we took down the last of our Christmas decorations this past weekend. Except for a garland and some white lights above our window that I’ve decided are winter decorations. I love Christmas, it’s always sad for me to see it pass (wow, what a sentimental lump I am in this post, huh?). BUT it does feel like the official signal of the new year.
Here’s a glimpse of our Christmas home that is no longer.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Today we celebrated Mother’s Day briefly before Elaine had to go into work. To no one’s surprise her personalized breakfast request was pretty specific and had nothing to do with cereal. To be specific her request was- crunchy red potato tacos with soyrizo, wilted spinach with tomatoes and fennel, decaf coffee, and freshly squeezed navel and blood oranges. It was quite a meal and fun to make for a wonderful mother.

For the last year plus she has been taking care of Mason and while it has been amazing to watch him grow; it has also been inspiring to watch Elaine grow as a mother. She is always up for the challenge, no matter if it is a 2am diaper change, cooking during nap time, reading the same book for the millionth time, or sacrificing her diet to benefit Mason’s skin allergies. With all of these changes Elaine has become the expert of not enough sleep, tasty meal creation to meet her and my dietary restrictions, and finding the bright spots during hard days.

I’ve never voiced this, but my only initial concern of this mothering thing was how she was going to respond to the 2am diapers, unpredictable mornings, and huge schedule change. You see Elaine loves to sleep… On the weekends before Mason came around I’d wake up around 7am and eat a first breakfast and then try to wake up Elaine around 9am. It usually wouldn’t work so I’d try to lour her out of bed with a fun breakfast (or my second breakfast or even lunch). There were times that she would jump out of bed but there also times that her breakfast would be served at 11:30am. From what I hear from Elaine and others is that often noon would be the start of the day.

You now understand my initial concern. However in real life the mornings and late night interruptions aren’t a problem at all. It would be safe to say that we both hear him in the middle of the night and both stall to see if the other person will get up first. I’ll do my share and stumble down the hall, but most of the time it is Elaine, a champion with no grumbles.

Elaine also loves the good times too. It is obvious to see that she treasures the snuggles Mason gives her and the joy after every smile that is directed towards her. Elaine is a very transparent mother, an honest one and one that loves her baby very, very much.

I’ve learned a lot from her and Mason will too- how to dance, cook and eat good food, and how to love.

Happy Mother’s Day to you Elaine and to all of the other great Mothers out there.
Love, Mark